A is for AeroPress
Enthusiasts believe this new version of the humble French press, which you’ll find on sale and in use in all Prague’s hipster cafes, is the ultimate cutting edge gizmo for brewing the perfect pure particle-free filter coffee. Not every member of the Prague barista community is a true believer. As one café owner (who begged to remain anonymous) told me, “It’s just a couple of bits of plastic – and it costs 700 CZK!”
B is for Barista
Once upon a time, the cool kids all wanted to be DJs. Now they all want to serve espresso. To stand a chance of getting a job behind the counter of a hip coffee house, you’ll need a bunch of quirky tattoos, including one of a coffeepot. Think I’m joking? See the above shot of Original Coffee’s champion barista Zuzana’s wrist.
C is for Cupping
No, we’re not talking about Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest wacky beauty treatment – but the term used for a coffee tasting. Master tasters sniff, sip and slurp their way through a multitude of brews to assess their subtle undertones – flavours so subtle, in fact, that mere mortals have not a cat in hell’s chance of detecting them. In that sense at least, coffee really is the new wine.
D is for Doubleshot
Doubleshot is a Czech-based roastery which provides coffee to many of Prague’s coolest cafes. I’m giving them a mention here to moan about the stingy size of a Doubleshot cappuccino. Sometimes less is just, well, less.
E is for Espresso
For God’s sake don’t go into a Prague hipster coffee haunt and demand a ‘preso’, ‘presso’ or ‘expresso lungo’ unless you wanted to be laughed out of the building. One bunch of local coffee purists have even gone as far as to set up a campaign—Piccolo neexistuje!—to stamp out bastardised Czech versions of their beloved espresso. Sponsor them so they can share their message on a billboard by the D1 motorway.
F is for Frappucino
Similarily, don’t bother asking for a frappuccino in an indie cafe: Starbucks have trademarked it. You want cinnamon, syrup or sprinkles? Best head to a branch of a homogenous coffee chain: purists believe these fancy additions mask the flavor of the bean.
G is for Grinder
No self-respecting home barista would be without their own cutting-edge (pun intended) coffee grinder: preferably Japanese. Pick up a Hario Skerton hand grinder in La Boheme: it will set you back around 942 CZK but that freshly ground aroma is to die for.
H is for Hipster
Love them or hate them, its thanks to the early adopters that you can finally drink really good coffee in Prague. It’s only a matter of time before there’s a Prague Hipster Barista meme – but in the meantime, enjoy this one.
I is for Industrial
If you want to attract the right crowd to your new coffee house, the interior must make the right statement. The colour scheme must be monochrome; the light fittings industrial; the menu written up on a chalkboard wall behind the counter. Do all these places hire the same designer?
J is for Jelly
In Japan, coffee jelly is a popular gelatine dessert. As so many barista gadgets originate from the Land of the Rising Sun, surely it’s just a matter of time before it replaces cheesecake and brownies on the menus of the coolest cafes?
K is for Kobza
Café owner and social activist Ondrej Kobza is the king of the underground scene who is more interested in urban interventions than fair-trade blends. This uber-bohemian is the mastermind behind Prague’s street pianos (and now chess boards!) projects as well as hip haunts Café ve Lese, Bajkazyl, and Café Neustadt. “The difference between coming to one of my cafes and going to Starbucks is that at my place you’re going to meet interesting, creative people,” he told me in a recent interview. So now you know.
L is for Latte Art
In case you weren’t wholly convinced that coffee making is an art, baristas make sure they create a pretty picture in your milk foam.
M is for Macchiato
This espresso with a dash of steamed milk hasn’t entirely disappeared from menus – but the cool gang have moved onto flat white, defined by Coffeehunter.org as “an espresso with milk where the coffee does the talking”.
N is for Nutrition
Is coffee good for you? Once upon a time, the answer was a definite no. However, mounting evidence apparently shows that a cup of joe can provide significant nutritional benefits such as delivering a dose of antioxidants – just don’t overload it with sugar.
O is for Obsessive Coffee Disorder
Must have at least four cups a day or else you start to get seriously twitchy? Won’t take a sip of a hot beverage unless you know the exact provenance of the bean? Wouldn’t even think about drinking instant even if you were desperate for a pick-me-up? You have a clear case of OCD – Obsessive Coffee Disorder, that is.
P is for Passion
You’ll have no hope of scoring a job as a barista without living, breathing and dreaming about coffee. As so often in the 21st century workplace, passion with a capital P is where it’s at.
Q is for The Queen (is dead)
Insider info! The manager of Dejvice’s espresso bar Kafemat is a huge fan of The Smiths so expect to see his The Queen is Dead poster adorning the wall very soon.
R is for Roastery
I think it began with Pražírna – well, I did give it five stars. The latest Prague coffee trend is for cafes which are also roasteries (Pražírna ticks that box) or for roasteries to open up cafes (Dos Mundos, La Boheme).
S is for Steamed Milk
“Bovine milk is fascinating,” declares Coffeegeek.com. Hmm. Their guide to frothing explains that heating milk increases the solubility of the lactose thus making it taste sweeter, one reason why the white stuff in your cappuccino has to be steamed.
T is for Tap Water
If it’s a hipster haunt, carafes of tap water – with ice and a slice – should be conspicuously on offer so that the caffeine-consuming clientele can properly rehydrate before re-entering society.
U is for ‘At the Unpronounceable’
Remember how when you first moved to Prague every single pub and restaurant seemed to be called ‘U something-unpronounceable’? Of course you later discovered that meant ‘At the…’ but you won’t need this hard won knowledge to navigate Prague’s hipster cafe land–because they usually have cool foreign names. Don’t believe me? Dos Mundos? La Boheme? Al Cafetero, original kid on the Vinohrady coffee block, famed for its vacumn pots? Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.
V is for V60
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a deadly doodlebug sent by the Third Reich to obliterate a London suburb? Oh wait, those rockets were V2s. No, the V60 is another high-tech gadget for baristas to serve up your filter coffee in (See also A is for AeroPress).
W is for Wifi
Essential. Must be free and accompanied by lots of easy-to-reach plug points so wannabe novelists can sit there all day nursing a single beverage while working on their magnum opus.
X is for X marks the spot
Those individuals who create a nest for themselves by spreading their laptop, bag and notebooks over a table meant for four people? They annoy us too – but they’ve bought a coffee so now this is their library/office. X marks the spot – or should it be I for iBook?
Y is for Youth Culture
Once upon a time there were Mods, punks, hippies, beatniks, metalheads, Goths and emos. Now there are cappuccino sippers, latte lovers and champion baristas.
Z is for Zealots
In case you hadn’t realised by now, speciality coffee is much more than just a beverage: it’s a religion eagerly seeking converts. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. One sip too many and you’ll be hooked.
Check out our article Coffee Mania Heats up in Prague for more on the coffee craze.